As of press time Avengers: Endgame’ had broken all records for first weekend movie box office grosses by raking in more than $1.2 Billion worldwide. Captain Marvel also pulled in more than a Billion dollars but not on the first weekend. If you looked at the top 10 grossing movies so far this year all but one are either of the superhero genre, Sci-fi or animated features.
Last year was the best year ever for the film industry as the studios earned a record-setting $41 Billion. Every one of last year’s top 10 grossing movies was a comic book hero film. I’m old enough to remember when we got our first TV that the pundits at that time were predicting the demise of the movie industry. Instead, for more than a decade, the movie industry has been fuelled by super-hero, Sci-fi and fantasy films, and the audience seems to not be able to get enough of endless sequels and prequels. There once was a time when a prequel or sequel was a way of milking another film out of a concept, and even though the knock-offs wouldn’t take in as much money, they would still do better than a thoughtful little drama like Glenn Close in The Wife which grossed a paltry $18 Million. Nowadays it is not uncommon for the sequel or prequel to outdo the original. I generally do not watch these kinds of films, although I did watch Wonder Woman and was pleasantly surprised at the 1930’s setting and a pretty good script.
What these film superheroes have in common is that they are essentially gods with superhuman powers. I have often wondered if these gods are replacing GOD in a generation of moviegoers. If you look at church attendance over the past couple of decades, it’s been in steady decline. Even the United States where we think of the population as worshipping God and country, only 36 percent describe themselves as regular church goers according to Gallup. In Canada its 29 percent, Britain 20, Germany 13. France—home to some of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals and churches has a church attendance rate of 11 percent.
Thanks to computer animation and other electronic wizardry, miracles happen every minute in these films, people can fly, they can shield themselves from all forms of incoming weaponry, they can be resurrected from the dead, (which used to be the sole domain of religion). The biblical miracles seem ho-hum next to what Hollywood is conjuring up.
You could probably take a pessimistic view of all this artificial God-ism, but perhaps the way to look at it that these films speak to a yearning in people who can’t bring themselves to attend church to nonetheless believe in something greater than mere humans. Most of the superheroes after all, adhere to a high moral and ethical code. It is still a fight between good and evil as it always has been. Maybe what we are witnessing is actually some kind of revival — just not religious.